Keeping up appearances in the Hamptons is not always an easy thing to do. Especially, if you’re a celebrity, where one false move may put you on the front page of The New York Post or on TMZ. That’s why most East End celebrities have a Public Relations Professional (PRP) in their stable. Although PRP’s are primarily engaged in promoting positive buzz for their clients, they’re also prepared for events that may not present their client in the best way. Like one PRP recently said, “It’s not if my client will have a scandal—but when?”
There have been celebrities who have tried to go it alone, and they have paid for their misstatements and missteps. A good PRP can frame the issue in such a way that it minimizes the negative perception. They not only know how to put it all in perspective, but sometimes can even spin it so that it elicits sympathy and works to the benefit of their client.
I have always been fascinated with this skill set, so you can imagine my excitement when I was seated next to a bona fide East End public relations guru at a recent fundraiser. As with most Hamptons events I attend, the caliber and quality of the guests exceeded my social standing and general abilities. I just never know what to say when they ask me questions.
As an example, shortly after my arrival at the function, I was introduced to an award-winning journalist who I will call “Mr. B.,” who just got back from Syria. He let everyone know he was working on an article that explored the psychological impact of the conflict on the local populations of the Middle East. When he asked me if I was working on anything, I responded by stating that I had just finished writing a piece about Whale Vomit for Dan’s Papers. Although he confessed he was a fan of the paper, he didn’t seem impressed with my subject matter.
Little did I know that the PRP was standing behind me and overheard the entire exchange. Sensing my awkwardness, she politely explained that I needed some advice regarding the way I had responded to the question, and, she suspected, in all my encounters.
“Can you give me some examples?” I asked.
“Well, if a Hamptons actor had a film that bombed, I may counter with something like, ‘Despite the fact that she turned in a noteworthy performance, the script did not reflect a direction that was acceptable to a widespread audience. Still, she will be remembered for her memorable performance in the face of difficult, if not impossible, circumstances.’
“And if a local fund manager was heavily fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission, I might release the following statement: ‘The SEC has unfairly sought to target my client, despite the fact that he has a sterling business reputation as well as being heavily involved in numerous philanthropic causes. In the face of budget reductions, it seems that it has become commonplace for the SEC to seek fault where it does not exist, in order to generate income via these types of actions.’
“Lastly, if a local celebrity has an auto accident while impaired, I’d say, ‘My client, battling the flu, had taken cough syrup prior to getting behind the wheel, unaware that it might impede his ability to operate a motor vehicle.”
I marveled at the way she was able to diffuse these awkward situations with mere words. I couldn’t resist the temptation. “What if East Hampton resident Jerry Seinfeld had been your client when he was accused of picking his nose, like on Season 4, Episode 13 of Seinfeld?”
“That’s an easy one” she countered “There was no picking of the nose involved. My client does not and never has been a nose picker. He was simply scratching his nose and it was observed at an angle that it appeared he was picking, when in fact, it was just a scratching of the outer portion of the nasal cavity.”
It was as if she didn’t have to think about it.
“So what should I have said to Mr. B?”
With a grin, the PRP responded, “You are currently working on a phenomenon that is centered on the emissions of gastrointestinal masses, also known as Ambergris, from the Physeter Macrocephalus, during its migration within the Atlantic Basin, and the economic impact it may have on the East End.”
Wow—I was sold. Even though I am not a celebrity, I now have a Public Relations Professional. Maybe everyone on the East End, celebrity or not, should have one
P.S. The works of the distinguished and highly acclaimed writer, Mr. Sneiv, as presented in the award-winning Dan’s Papers, can also be viewed by going to the widely viewed and highly regarded website DansHamptons.com.